A national audience will watch the MAC's best rivalry tonight.
Since their last meeting almost two months ago, Kent State has picked up momentum, barely looking back on the way to earning program's fourth regular season championship in six seasons. Akron hit rock bottom, built its way back to the top, before suffering a punishing defeat in Athens.
Akron fans will be watching to see how the Zips rebound. Will their confidence be broken, as the team was reminded Tuesday of what the early season slump felt like? Or can the Zips cut their memories short, and resume the momentum that had fans thrilled for the postseason?
Oddsmakers believe the latter will occur, with Kent State being only a 3.5-point home favorite.
Kent State is an unusual conference frontrunner in that it doesn't lead the MAC in any statistical categories. It is a sturdy defensive squad with an effective, consistent offense. Their guards are winners -- that's the best way to describe them. Michael Porrini is one tough son-of-a-gun. His dunk to seal the Buffalo victory made almost every MAC follower (and even his own head coach) say, "Wow, what a bad***."
Rodriguez Sherman and Carlton Guyton both have attributes you need to cause panic in the opposing backcourt and take advantage of your own frontcourt talent. Justin Greene had a rough game at Akron, but he is an out-and-out beast.
But that's where Kent State drops off. Coach Geno Ford only plays seven plays more than seven minutes a game (Akron has nine). The Flashes' test next week will be, can they keep their legs on that third game in three days?
Tonight, however, should be a great cap to the MAC regular season.